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What really gets me is that some of those who tear their hair out, bang their head against the wall and try to get me kicked out of this forum and PTG over the issue of UNEQUAL temperaments mad shocked confused tiki cursing, are actually saying that they like an example of a deliberately detuned piano!

Neither they nor the people who gave credit for the detuning could actually come up with the proper term for it. These wonderful effects that they find, however, neither belong to the music nor would the have occurred naturally with an unserviced piano.

Music by Scott Joplin is often associated with the "Honky Tonk" sound of an unserviced piano because at the time when that music was popular and in the places it was often played, that was the reality.

The truth is, however that it was neither written with nor intended to have that sound but it definitely was tonal music, as was the music of Jelly Roll Morton. A far better solution would have been to actually have tuned the piano in a deliberate Meantone temperament which would have naturally expressed the "blue notes" which are intended and were in the mind of the composer and performer.

I'm afraid, however that if the proper action would have been taken (which I am sure that none of those technicians were capable and were completely ignorant of), that it would have been condemned by the very same people who praised the random effects caused by sheer ignorance.

We would have to read once again in the PTG Journal that no early 20th Century American music could have possibly been written for anything but ET since, according to well researched documentation, ET was firmly entrenched by the time of Beethoven. Owen Jorgensen was only living in a fantasy world.

Let's see the very first credit on such a recording given to a piano technician who actually knows how to tune a Meantone temperament! Let's see it on a recording of music by such artists as Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Thelonious Monk. Then, we would only hear disgust at it, I am sure and the reason why all piano music should be in ET and ET only until the next guy comes along who "out-of-tunes" a piano for "effect" and then it will be wonderful again (and his name will actually be on the CD!).



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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
What really gets me is that some of those who tear their hair out, bang their head against the wall and try to get me kicked out of this forum and PTG over the issue of UNEQUAL temperaments mad shocked confused tiki cursing, are actually saying that they like an example of a deliberately detuned piano![...]


Well, Bill, maybe people can appreciate that what they like about these detuned pianos is that they are UNEQUAL from something. (ET, perhaps? Or, perhaps not! laugh My knowledge and ears are not good enough, yet, to know if the original "The Crave" and other links were purposefully tuned originally in Meantone, then left alone to ripen. Ripen, they did, though. grin )

Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
Let's see the very first credit on such a recording given to a piano technician who actually knows how to tune a Meantone temperament!

At least Ed Foote got credit for "Beethoven in the Temperaments." wink


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I think part of the problem with piano techs being listed in credits is that we, as an industry, are somewhat insecure. Maybe we are too shy and/or worried about sounding demanding, or worse we may undervalue what we do.

After thinking about this thread for a few days, I'm determined that if any of my tunings are to be recorded in the future I will insist that I be listed in the credits. Otherwise we contribute to our craft being disregarded or taken for granted.


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Andy's (CinnamonBear) points are interesting. After reading his comments about "the Crave" recording posted earlier. The piano tuning sounds very clean except for just a few notes - which does make it seem more contrived. Perhaps the better effect would have been to bump all the right strings half a beat sharp, and the left strings half a beat flat. But if it is done TOO consistently I suppose it might still have an artificial character to the connoisseur.



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The Ed Court thing was, of course, contrived and whimsical and can be enjoyed and appreciated and raise a chuckle for that reason. I don't think that anyone is advocating a standard or better way to de-tune or "out-of-tune" a piano. The ways and degrees by which this can be accomplished are legion, have no rhyme or reason, and do not take a professional to effect. Witness some of the crazy "tunings" on you tube.

Among the other examples above the Brubeck seems similar to the Ed Court thing , but I am not sure. I know that Mr Brubeck appreciated a well-tuned and clean unison piano for performance. (Another story for another day.)

Ryan's point above is another good one. I only suggest that since the recording is the artists' property, affording a choice in the matter might be better received. When discussing the particulars with their management team state the full price for tuning etc and as an option for a listing on the liner offer a value-added service or discount. It may be a bit of a gamble but if all turns out well on the recording it could be among the best advertising dollars a tech could invest. Shelf life keeps on giving...


Last edited by bkw58; 01/04/15 09:42 AM. Reason: typo

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The interpretation of Mortons’ The Crave is a soundtrack for a movie arrangement by Morricone. There was an original release or 29 titles then a re-release of 21 titles including the track originally composed by Morton.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_1900_%28soundtrack%29

Of course the instrument is set up with particular notes out of tune; this is Morricone’s art or interpretation of the composer’s song. The Steinway D at Concordia is very cleverly out tuned in particular areas to catch the listener not listening or to make them sit up and pay attention.

Art or another’s interpretation of art has cause discussion, observation and debate; this is one of the things art and artists attempt to accomplish so I believe Morricone has been successful, at least here on this forum anyways.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ennio_Morricone


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I wonder about the "tunings" on these old Hollywood sets. I always get a laugh with this one - tinny, out of tune, sour notes - it's a hoot laugh

(An example of one I wouldn't want to be listed on the credits. On the soundtrack release that is.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZm_fociPi4

From the beginning to about 1:25.

Last edited by bkw58; 01/04/15 11:31 AM.

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Originally Posted by bkw58
I wonder about the "tunings" on these old Hollywood sets. I always get a laugh with this one - tinny, out of tune, sour notes - it's a hoot laugh

(An example of one I wouldn't want to be listed on the credits. On the soundtrack release that is.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZm_fociPi4

From the beginning to about 1:25.


That was funny, BKW. I love Western movies. Many of them have a saloon scene with a "honky tonk" sounding piano. This topic has come up before about whether a piano was deliberately detuned the way we hear it in the film or not.

In this example from Tombstone, I believe it was a deliberate detuning, much like the example earlier in this topic. I never watched the credits to see if any technician got credit for it or not:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z7ATsISwrU

In contrast, in this scene from the Godfather, I think the props department went out to search for an old and unserviced piano, found one that sounded the way they wanted and used it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qHXloT9FNk

If you listen, even casually, you can hear that the Tombstone piano is consistently out of tune in a certain way but the Godfather piano sounds like an old upright with a cracked soundboard and some loss of crown and which has not been tuned in many years, so the deteriorated sound is random.

The sound that a piano would have had in a Western saloon would have come from the fact that the piano was built in the East, transported out West by train and then wagon (covered or not), placed in the saloon and had no one to tune or otherwise service it after that. Yet, it was played hard for hours every day and night.

If someone really wanted to replicate that sound, an old upright with deeply grooved hammers would first have to be found. Perhaps put a little hardener right on the striking surface. Leave a little uneven lost motion in the action and rattling flange screws.

Tune the piano at -20 cents using a 4ths & 5ths sequence but don't do any checks, just "kinda, sorta, pretty even". Only roughly and quickly tune the unisons so that beats occur in them randomly but none are very bad, just some of them "fuzzy". Make the high treble be flat and yes, the higher you go, the flatter it gets. Tune the bass an irritating amount sharp since it would be the part of the piano which had held pitch the best.

Now, you would have a true representation of what one of those pianos would have sounded like. None of the music ever played on them was written with that kind of tuning arrangement in mind but it was surely most often heard that way.


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Thanks, Bill. Sometimes the effect was also achieved with a "tack piano." That is, tacks in hammers at the strike point. B. Bumble and the Stingers "Bumble Boogie." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jisNh8jP_g
Several have used this in recordings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tack_piano


Last edited by bkw58; 01/04/15 02:11 PM.

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One from London:

John Lill, Schumann, Classics for Pleasure, 2003.
Piano technician: Peter Salisbury
Venue: Henry Wood Hall.









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Last edited by casinitaly; 01/08/15 03:57 AM. Reason: removed useless comment on another forum member

Bill Bremmer RPT
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT


In contrast, in this scene from the Godfather, I think the props department went out to search for an old and unserviced piano, found one that sounded the way they wanted and used it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qHXloT9FNk

...The Godfather piano sounds like an old upright with a cracked soundboard and some loss of crown and which has not been tuned in many years, so the deteriorated sound is random.


Good morning, Bill. Sounds about right. Here's a little more about the pianist:

"'This Loneliness' (composed by) by Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola's father. Mr. Coppola is playing the song live in the scene. (Uncredited in the film.)..."

Carmine Coppola was going for maximum effect upon a modern audience. Hollywood excels at this as opposed to the reality. (Might the typical piano of the day have really sounded this way to a ca. 1930s listener? ) The surprise to me was his storied musical background and composition. The old gentleman actually composed a few film scores.

Last edited by bkw58; 01/08/15 09:51 AM. Reason: clarity

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Back on topic the most recent Elton John album credits the piano tech in the liner notes.


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Sir Elton John is to be commended for this. In my view, recognition of the piano tech on these and similar productions is long over due. Thanks for the post, LBE.

Last edited by bkw58; 02/19/15 02:38 PM. Reason: typo

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The 2011 album Goat Rodeo Sessions(a really entertaining blue-grass/folk/fusion album with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan) credits the piano tech (Steve Carver) in the liner notes. They're a great bunch of guys and put on a very entertaining live show, too. Christ Thile's dad also happens to be an RPT.

Last edited by adamp88; 02/20/15 02:12 PM.

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